In these difficult times, may we all “fix our eyes, not on what is seen, but on what is unseen” (2 Corinthians 4:18), believing that these truly are “light and momentary troubles” in view of the eternal glory that is to come.
We are grateful to report that our long term workers are all situated where they plan to be for the foreseeable future. A couple who had been teaching English in Asia returned to their home in Ohio late last week where they plan to quarantine for two weeks. It became clear that there was little likelihood that they could return to their teaching positions anytime soon. One of our single workers ran into visa issues in North Africa and was forced to leave as well. He’s safely back in his home area, also in quarantine. A family who has been living in Asia for many years was here in the US when the crisis hit; they are now forced to stay here until things change.
While we gave all of our workers on the field the option of returning to the US, those who could remain have all chosen to stay in their homes abroad. We are honored to support those who are staying in the middle of crisis to serve the people to whom they have been called. We believe this will speak loudly to those around them who are closely watching how followers of Jesus face this challenge.
Isaac, Director of Short-Term Programs, has this update regarding REACH and City Challenge:
The past several weeks have been a whirlwind of activity for the Short-Term Programs of RI. We have seen God move mightily in his care and provision for each team as they made their journey home, even as global transportation was disrupted. Upon arrival, the teams began a 14-day quarantine here at the RIC, after which we will have a week of reentry and debriefing sessions. The decision to cut the REACH year short and send participants home over a month early was not an easy one, but one that has been validated time and time again as we see the world changing rapidly.
Because of these sudden changes, there are many feelings and emotions that the REACH participants are processing at the moment – disappointment, frustration, and uncertainty about the future. While it may be easy to understand why outreach was cut short for them, it is more difficult to let go of the friendships formed and the work left undone.
Along with ending the REACH year early, we have also made the decision to cancel City Challenge this year. Because of the restrictions to large groups and the uncertain timeline and effects of the virus, we felt that we needed to make a decision soon whether or not to move forward with City Challenge and so we came to the decision to cancel it.
This presents a lot of uncertainty with how the rest of the year looks for our staff and interns. We still believe that God is working. In fact, we are seeing him move in tangible ways. This week we received a special monetary donation that will cover the entire cost of bringing the REACH teams home. This was unexpected, and in the midst of so many hard situations, it was a ray of light and encouragement to us all. Praise God!
Jesus is still calling us to follow, to surrender, and to serve those around us. Pray that we as a department and our participants would have hearts that follow no matter the path. That we would have hearts that seek the Kingdom, and the Great Treasure.
Please continue to pray for us and with us! If you feel led, we would love for you to leave a prayer in the comment section below. Thank you so much!
For more RI updates surrounding COVID-19 go here: Update One